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Immediate report on the Victoria University of Wellington Antarctic Expedition 1959-60: VUWAE 3


page 5


The Government obtained the support of the United States authorities in providing for the party and their equipment air transport from New Zealand to McMurdo Sound; helicopter transport from Scott Base to and from Victoria Valley; and sea transport from McMurdo Sound to New Zealand.

Gibson, Allen and Willis, with approximately 3000 lbs of equipment, were flown to McMurdo Sound on November 13; and Balham and Wheeler followed three days later. The period between arrival at Scott Base and departure for Victoria Valley was spent in organising field equipment and repacking the stores into main base and three depot lots.

Through the co-operation of the U.S. Navy Air Squadron VX-6 (Captain Mansen), a photo-reconnaissance flight was made possible. Two U.S. Navy Otter aircraft flew all members, plus a U.S. Navy photographer, over the proposed operational area, and a series of oblique photographs was taken and made available to the expedition. The value of these photographs while the party was operating in the field and subsequently working up the data can well be imagined. The flights were also of immense value in familiarising members with the country they would be traversing and in locating likely sites for high-level food and fuel depots.

The expedition (five men plus 3500 lbs of food and equipment) were lifted in three flights by U.S. Navy helicopter (Lt. B. Hooper) from Scott Base to Lake Vashka, at the western end of Barwick Valley, where the main base was established on November 27. In addition, food and fuel depots were placed by helicopter at Lake Vida, at the eastern end of Victoria Valley (supplies for 120 man-days); on the Apocalypse Peaks at 2800 feet (60 man-days); and in a cirque between the Upper Victoria and Millar Glaciers at 3200 feet (60 man-days). It had been hoped to lay the depot on the Apocalypse Peaks at about 4000 feet, but deterioration in the weather, with a lowering of cloud base, made it impossible to reach this height. Nevertheless the expedition were most grateful to Lt. Hooper for his willingness to attempt the flight.

The main base supplies included 210 man-day rations.

The expedition was flown back to Scott Base by U.S. Navy helicopter, with support from a U.S. Navy Otter aircraft from Marble Point to Scott Base, on February 1. The party had spent a total of 67 days in the field.